Saturday, August 02, 2014

Operation Understanding DC Class 20 - Meridian, Mississippi

Class 20 of Operation Understanding DC in Meridian, Mississippi.

The OUDC students met with veteran civil rights leader Roscoe Jones Sr.,  a COFO (Council of Federated Organizations) organizing director, and with local civil rights and labor attorney, Bill Reedy Sr.

Mr. Jones shared his ongoing story, and that by a fluke he narrowly missed being the fourth person in the car the night Mickey Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney  were pulled over and  killed by the Ku Klux Klan in 1964. Mr. Jones guided the students to his friend James Chaney's grave, in a family plot on a small country road outside of Meridian. The headstone has steel braces to hold it up, which serve to protect it from ongoing vandalism.

The stones on Mr. Chaney's headstone have primarily been left by Jewish visitors, as a mark of respect.

The pistol is Mr. Reedy's. He said he used it to shoot Klansmen on a couple of occasions, including one who was attempting to plant a burning cross on his lawn in protest of Reedy's effective work on behalf of African-American rights. In one case, he had just represented one of the men he shot in a pro-union court case. Mr. Reedy is still working as an attorney in Meridian - a colorful self described "simple country lawyer" - but he is anything but simple.

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